A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a Video Games Live concert at Yale University's Woolsey Hall. Of course, as others know, it was nothing short of fantastic.
For those who are not familiar with Video Games Live, here's a quick explanation. Founders Tommy Tallarico and Jack Hall tour all over the place, having orchestras play famous (and not so famous) pieces of video game music as a premade video showing footage from the original game or games that the music came from plays above them, with lighting effects and sometimes even a stage performance is mixed in. The end result is something that is absolutely amazing, to the point where someone who has never played a video game in his or her life can go to one of these shows and get a heck of a lot of enjoyment out of it.
So what music is played? Well of course, there are the obligatory Mario and Zelda pieces (with the Mario presentation in particular being really well done, in my opinion), but there are also more obscure pieces, such as music from Advent Rising and even some PC presence in the form of Myst and Sid Meier's Civilization. There's also a really well done opening piece in the form of an Arcade complilation, which features everything from Tetris to Donkey Kong to Dragon's Lair.
And, of course, there is also a heck of a lot of Final Fantasy. But it's all good, because Final Fantasy music is amazing.
There are also some nice diversions that actually include audience participation. One of these is a competition between two players in the Plug & Play version of Frogger for a $2500 laptop, and instead of having the standard music come out of the speakers, Mr. Hall has the orchestra play the music for the game, changing it on the fly as the audience member dies or succeeds at Frogger. It really is a sight to behold.
In the concert I ventured to, and apparently in several other concerts as well, the YouTube star, who is now referred to as the "Video Game Pianist," Martin Leung performed several pieces, ranging from Super Mario Bros. to Final Fantasy. He is nothing short of amazing, and it really is exciting to see him perform in person. At Woolsey Hall, the site of the concert that I attended, there is a large, 104-year-old organ, and what could Mr. Leung possibly play on it?
That's right. A Castlevania piece. And it was fantastic.
No matter where one is seated in the concert, the energy in the room and the absolute enjoyment one feels is amazing. There is a ton of screaming and clapping between each piece, and you know you're truly in a room of game fans and even some non-gamers who recognize impressive work.
Beforehand, there was a two-hour pre-show event, with Guitar Hero and Halo competitions, as well as the costume contest. I think I can say that my friends, i.e. the two hottest Link ladies I've ever seen in my life, were the most popular people in room; everyone kept asking them if they could get a picture with them!
The charisma in the fans was amazing, and there were so many different people there. I saw everyone from family to Rawmeat Cowboy at GoNintendo to my old middle-school principal and his kids were there.
It really was a gathering to remember, and I'd go again in a heartbeat if presented the opportunity. To everyone who even remotely likes video games, and even those who don't, your attendance is highly recommended.